Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Jon Nödtviedt decided to put Dissection to rest after the highly-influential Storm of the Lights Bane and decided to join Dark Tranquillity? Yes, I know, total blasphemy, but weirder things have happened. I mean, W.A.S.P. put out a better record last year than Slayer, for crying out loud. Nothing is completely out of the realm of possibility, right? The reason why I asked that question is because Danish newcomers Slægt tried to hypothesize the outcome of such a pairing with their four-song EP, Beautiful and Damned. In doing so, they crafted a pretty intriguing set of songs.
Their debut album, last year’s Ildsvanger, was a bit more Immortal or Darkthrone worship than anything coming out of Gothenburg. With multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Oskar J. “Asrok” Frederiksen and drummer Adam “Ccsquele” Nielsen joined by additional members, Beautiful and Damned shows some serious growth. Opener “Move in Chaos” wastes no time in throwing in some quick icy riffs and hammering drums. Asrok has a very clear, cavernous rasp that reminds one of the late Nödtviedt. About two minutes in, the band settles into a slow, cold groove, with a pretty infectious twin-guitar harmony between Asrok and Anders M. Jørgensen while bassist Olle Bergholz holds the bottom-end down. Throughout the song’s duration, we’re treated to quality black metal, The Gallery-esque showmanship and twin melodies, and a heaping ton of atmosphere, all kept in the confines of a well-crafted near-seven-minute song.
For the most part, Beautiful and Damned retain that forward, upward momentum for the majority of the EP’s 24 minutes. Instrumental “Church of the Night” feels like a long-lost In Flames ballad, only much darker and icier. “Alshincheri,” possibly the heaviest of four songs on here, also benefits from some dark ambience and good use of breathing space. Those three songs give a strong case for Slægt‘s progression of a time-honored sound. Early in the game, and these gents have a fairly good handle on emulating their icons.
Helping them along is the production, which sounds refreshingly dynamic. Bergholz sounds good throughout the EP, and the drums, though cavernous, still provide the appropriate amount of thunder. What doesn’t help, though, is repetition. With the exception of “Church of the Night,” all of the songs are over 6 minutes in length, and some of those minutes are caught meandering. The closing title track suffers the most from this, as aside from some phenomenal leads by Jørgensen, the feeling of deja-vu was strong.
Still, Slægt, in paying homage to their mentors, crafted a rich EP, showcasing a hungry young band with promise. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, as the groundwork is already solid. We could end up with a new melodic black metal band worthy of worship soon.